Jesus' ascension: What does it mean for us?

On Sunday, June 2, 2019, many churches will celebrate Jesus' ascension from earth to the Father's right hand in heaven (Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:1-2). But what does Jesus' ascension mean for us? We'll answer that question in this post.


Ascension of Christ (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

In Royal Priesthood: A Theology of Ordained Ministry, T.F. Torrance notes the truth that Jesus ascended "in the fullness of His Humanity," remaining "bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh" so that in union with him, we are "bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh (Eph. 5.30)" (p. 43). Torrance exhorts the church to take this truth seriously:
If Jesus Christ is not risen in Body, then salvation is not actualized in the same sphere of reality in which we are, and we are yet in our sins (1 Cor. 15.17). If Jesus Christ is not ascended in the fullness of His Humanity, then we have no anchor within the veil and there is no hope for us men and women of flesh and blood (Heb. 6.19; Col. 1.27). To...dehumanize Christ is to make the Gospel of no relevance to humanity [and]...to turn it into an inhospitable and inhuman abstraction.
Is this not why our churches today often appear so inhospitable because they have lost something, as it were, of the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ?  It is only too easy for a church to become an inhuman institution... [operating] with a docetic Christology [a heresy that denies the humanity of Jesus].
....The teaching of the New Testament [is] that the Church is the Body of the living Christ... [And] here we are concerned very much with the Humanity of Jesus. "We are members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones" (Eph. 5.30). This is the strongest possible emphasis upon the fact that in the resurrection of Christ and in the Church's participation in Him the purpose of God in creation is brought to its fulfillment. This fulfillment is no abrogation of its creatureliness but on the contrary a restoration of its creaturely reality which had been impaired by sin.... This means that our creaturely humanity is not transcended or transmuted or trans-substantiated but is fully substantiated as creaturely humanity in the creature-Creator relation. 
The Pauline concept of the "spiritual body"...does not mean a spiritualized body, as if it were less body because it has become spiritual. The "spiritual man"...is no less man because he is spiritual, but on the contrary, far more man because through the Spirit he participates in the real Humanity of Jesus Christ, who is more fully Man than any other man, and who is above all the humanizing Man, the Man through whom all who believe in Him are humanized, and restored through atonement to true and perfect humanity. (pp. 43-44)
As we celebrate Jesus' ascension, let us remember that Jesus, the resurrected, glorified, ascended man (human) remains forever our representative and substitute - our mediator with God (1 Tim. 2:5). From heaven he sends his Spirit to dwell with us, transforming us into the likeness of his own humanity, and leading us in his continuing work to fulfill the Father's mission.

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